A total of two First Nations people have died in custody in the last week alone.
Content warning: This article talks about First Nations people that have passed away. The story also mentions self-harm which may be triggering for some readers.
The first report was of a 35-year-old man who passed away in custody at Long Bay Hospital. The second confirmed death was a woman in her mid-50’s who died of unnatural death.
Greens MP David Shoebridge is saddened but not surprised by these statistics.
“Two First Nations deaths in NSW prisons in a week isn’t just a coincidence, it’s a predictable outcome of a racist criminal justice system,” Shoebridge stated.
The woman died whilst in custody at Silverwater Prison. Corrective Services acknowledge that the likely cause of death was by hanging. The deceased woman was in a cell with known hanging points.
“It is utterly unacceptable that neither the Minister or the Commissioner inform the public about deaths in custody, and we only find out about these tragic deaths through persistent questioning in estimates,” Shoebridge stated.
“Two First Nations deaths in a single week is devastating and the Government’s new policy of secrecy only adds to the growing concern about First Nations deaths in custody. “
Thirty Years on from the Royal Commission
More than thirty years after the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, First Nations people continue to die in the care of Corrective Services.
David Shoebridge criticises the government response to recent efforts to shine a spotlight on the issue.
“The Government’s response to the Black Lives Matter movement has not been to address deaths in custody but to hide them from public scrutiny,” Shoebridge stated.
“We understand that making changes to the prison system takes time but with multi-billion dollar annual budgets it is inconceivable that Corrective Services haven’t managed to remove hanging points from all cells 30 years after the recommendation.”